Written by Daniela Giorgi and Paul Gilchrist, Directed by Paul Gilchrist
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Tue 6 – Sat 10 Sep
Tickets $21 – $25
1 hour Flight Path Theatre
Family, past, present and future. All these ideas come wrapped inside subtlenuance’s Fringe production Softly, Surely. Originally written for the Old 505 FreshWorks program, Softly, Surely has its Fringe debut and offers the staging of an eclectic selection of tales, transitioned by traditional folk music.
Written by Daniela Giorgi and Paul Gilchrist, the play meditates on the passing of time, where we are subjected to life’s eventual grasp. In the midst of time, we form connections, find our passions, begin new opportunities, start families, but ultimately time continues, softly and surely. We hear tales from a talented group of actors, all of whom dedicate themselves to present a vignette of stories that ultimately collide.
Claudia Shnier’s Carla begins, legs bent, in the middle of a pelvic exam as she recounts her mother’s life and reflects on the traditions passed down to her. With a knowing bit of cheek, Shnier brings a soft realism to her monologue.
Zoë Crawford’s Melissa and Yannick Lawry’s Mike are a couple with tense undertones of stress to their marriage. Lawry is distracted, a doctor-come-property-investor who is troubled by his mother’s recent stroke. Crawford plays the partner who feels neglected, seeking attention and desires to go back to a time when they were adventurous and reckless.
Rosie Meader’s Maddy is the young, naïve and starry-eyed actress whose dream is to slam a door like Nora in A Doll’s House.
Abi Rayment’s Alice, a victim of a recent stroke, breaks into an inner monologue recounting the loss of a partner, a distance from her son, and ultimately a reliance on him as well.
There are standout stories here that captivate you. Rayment shows a wealth of talent, commanding her presence in one position throughout her monologue, using only her words to pull you into Alice’s journey. The slipping in and out of the effects of the stroke on her faculties made her speech all the more heart wrenching. Whereas Shnier uses humour effectively to conjure up images of a traditional past which she has inherited.
With Crawford and Meader also taking co-musical director roles, the traditional folk songs such as ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, ‘Bella Ciao’, ‘Oy, u poli, v poli’, ‘The Parting Glass’ and ‘E Noi Che Siamo Donne’ bring a beautiful tone to the transitions between each scene.
There is dialogue and scenes here that don’t quite reflect the realism which Giorgia and Gilchrist are going for, leaving some of the pieces feeling stunted or forgettable. Meader’s Maddy needs much more focus to give her character the same depth as the rest. The moments that do resonate, however, help to bring themes of time to the surface and makes for some engaging monologues.
Being the Fringe, this seemed a perfect setting to develop Softly, Surely into something larger and more substantial. There is definitely a depth of realism here that has the potential for a lasting impact, as long as those gorgeous traditional folks stay at the forefront.
subtlenuance is a Sydney based, independent theatre company dedicated solely to the creation of new work.
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CAST & CREATIVES
Claudia Shnier – Carla
Rosie Meader – Maddy
Yannick Lawry – Mike
Zoë Crawford – Melissa
Abi Rayment – Alice
Written by Daniela Giorgi and Paul Gilchrist
Directed by Paul Gilchrist
Co-Musical Directors – Rosie Meader & Zoë Crawford
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